CAIRO—Many medical students and physicians in Egypt are urging the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research to reconsider its decision to go ahead with final examinations for the students in July. The students say the exams will put them, patients and others at risk of being infected with the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, Covid-19.
Students in the fourth, fifth and sixth year of their training have raised concerns about both written exams and clinical exams, which involve contact or dialogue with patients. They want to postpone or cancel the exams, or replace them with alternative ways of assessing what they have learned, such as research papers or other tasks. (See a related article, “Next Steps for New Online Courses: Measure Learning, Prevent Cheating.”)
The ministry and university administrations have not yet issued responses to the students’ demands and did not immediately respond to requests from Al-Fanar Media for comment.
“There are no specific, clear safety measures. We risk ourselves to sit for tests that can easily be done online or postponed,” said Abdul-Rahman Sameer, a fourth-year medical student at Assiut University. “We will have to attend the exams and will be vulnerable to get infected while on public transportation or in packed examination halls.”
Covid-19 in University Hospitals
Reem Izzat, a sixth-year medical student at Beni Suef University, is also afraid of taking exams. “I am afraid of getting the infection and passing it to my family, especially my parents, for they are both elderly,” she said.
Izzat believes that taking clinical exams at university hospitals, which are often filled with Covid-19 patients and where the staff often don’t have adequate personal protection equipment, is dangerous. “We can avoid such risk by postponing the exams until normal study is resumed,” she said.